Sat, Jul 03, 2004 - Page 2 News List

PFP lawmakers trip up on their `scandal' claims

FACTS NOT STRAIGHT Two legislators whose allegations against the Presidential Office were contradicted by video evidence simply changed their story so it fit the video

By Debby Wu  /  STAFF REPORTER

Two People First Party (PFP) legislators yesterday accused Presidential Office deputy secretary-general Cho Jung-tai (卓榮泰) of helping Japanese electronics maker NEC improperly secure a NT$399 million contract for a Taiwan Railway Administration (TRA) project. The Presidential Office denied the accusation.

PFP Legislators Lee Hung-chun (李鴻鈞) and Pang Chien-kuo (龐建國) yesterday said that four companies, including NEC, were bidding for the NT$399 billion TRA project for a third-generation booking and sales system, and that the contract went to NEC -- also the manufacturer of the second-generation system -- with improper help from Cho.

"According to our source, Cho told the TRA director and deputy director that [President] Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) gave the instructions to give the bid to NEC," Pang said.

Lee also claimed that the NT$399 million was far more than enough for NEC to construct the third-generation system because it only needed to upgrade the second-generation software, which would only cost the company about NT$ 3.4 million.

The legislators said at the press conference that according to an unnamed source who had revealed details of the alleged misconduct to them, Cho visited the legislature on June 18 to persuade legislators who were backing other bidders to withdraw from the process.

But the Presidential Office said that Cho had not visited the legislature on June 18, and that the last time Cho had visited the legislature was on June 10, on Presidential Office businesses.

"Cho Jung-tai has never been involved in the bidding process, and President Chen was definitely not involved either," Presidential Office Spokesman Chen Wen-tzong (陳文宗) said.

"Cho checked his diary this morning and he was sure that he did not visit the legislature on June 18. The last time he went to the legislature was on June 10 to visit the Budget and Final Accounts Committee and the Organic Law and Statute Bureau for official business," Chen said.

The two legislators later checked the legislature's closed-circuit video and decided that Cho had not visited the legislature on June 18 as they originally claimed. They also agreed that his last visit was on June 10 -- but said that this visit was for the purpose of conducting secret talks with legislators about the bidding.

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